Jamaica Travel Guide
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These scores tell you how well-liked a place is in each Tribe. Gogobot Tribes are groups who share a certain travel style, like Family Travelers or History Buffs.
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- 98%Outdoor Enthusiasts
- 81%Budget Travelers
- 76%Luxury Travelers
- 74%Family Travelers
- 69%Adventure Travelers
Member Reviews (123)
- JamaicaMar 03, 2014
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I’ve traveled to Jamaica dozens of times over a 21 year period and because I’m so passionate about you having the best possible experience this free report is yours! If you’re considering a trip to Jamaica, especially to Westmoreland including Negril IMMEDIATELY Read this article to learn things you absolutely need to know before travelling to Jamaica. Whether you’re new to the island or have been travelling here for years, this free report is guaranteed to contain valuable information sure to make your trip more exciting, more unique, and more memorable. .
Table of Contents:
1. Planning Your Trip
2. Travel Options on the Island
3. Communication with Jamaicans
4. Local Cuisine & Specialties
5. Connectivity and Communication Solutions
Planning Your Trip to Jamaica
There are obviously many personal factors to consider when planning any trip. The purpose of this section is to organize the major decision.
Factors to consider are:
- Length of Your Stay
- Goals or Reasons for Travel: What Type of Experience are You Looking For?
- Developing an Itinerary
- Purchasing Airfare
- Arranging Accommodations
- Creating a Pack list
Length of Stay:
My primary residence is in Milwaukee Wisconsin, my trips to Jamaica have been as short as 4 days and up to 2 months. Depending on where you live; it’s not only possible to travel to Jamaica for an extended weekend but it can be practical as well. A longer stay is generally better because you have more days to amortize the cost of your airfare (a large expense of your vacation). For shorter stays, it is generally better to have a single destination in mind with the goal of relaxing and soaking up some sun. Relaxing can take the form of active rest or just a reprieve from your daily routine. Longer stays are great and truly ideal for soaking up the vibes, long afternoon conversations with locals or wandering around your environment and taking day trips to attractions or other areas of the island.
Goals for your vacation / Type of Experience:
Whether you’re looking to kick back and relax, seeking adventure, or experience rich and diverse culture, Jamaica is a great choice. Of course you can do a bit of everything on a trip as short as 7 – 10 days, but your motivation for traveling is worthy of some deliberate consideration after some quick research will help you get the most out of your time. Is this a couples getaway that you want to be pampered? Do you simply want the most economical option to sit on the beach and soak up the rays? Are you willing to sacrifice some personal comforts so you travel more and see more once you’re on the island? Is cultural immersion and being in nature appeal to you? Whether it’s simply to avoid winter, be in Jamaica for an event or festival, timing itself could be a motivation for your travel.
Authors Note: Jamaica shares an ideal climate along with the rest of the island in the West Indies, but its rich biodiversity, dramatic topography, and abundance of fresh water separate Jamaica from the vast majority of Caribbean islands. Jamaica is home to the tallest (Blue Mountains) and oldest mountains (The Dolphinhead Mts) in the Caribbean. Jamaica is the most biodiverse country in the Caribbean and the Dolphin head Mountains have the highest percentage of flora and fauna endemic to the region of anywhere in the world. If there is one thing you must EXPLORE during your stay it’s Jamaica ‘s gorgeous inland countryside and mountains. Almost all resorts and hotels have multiple day trips, our pick for the absolute best day trip out of either Negril or Montego Bay is Mayfield Falls. This two mile stretch of unadulterated natural waterfalls is an absolutely incredible experience.
Developing an Itinerary
After you’ve determined the approximate length of your stay and reasons for travel, your itinerary will start to take shape. Will you be staying in multiple locations once on the island or staying in one place and exploring from there? Do you have a list of “must see” attractions? Is it practical to see all of them with day trips from a single location? Or are you content just wandering around and exploring without any destination in mind? If you’re traveling to Westmoreland or Negril consider reviewing this list of popular day trips from Negril
Purchasing Airfare to Jamaica
Travel aggregators like Expedia, Travelocity and Kayak have homogenized flight price information for major airlines. Many independent charters offer direct flights to Jamaica during high travel season (November – April). FunJet is one such example that serves the Midwest United States. If you have flexible travel dates ITA Flight Matrix is the most efficient tool. It accommodates a simultaneous variable for the duration of your stay AND up to a 30 day range of departure dates.
After you determine how much time is realistic given your personal circumstances, you can begin to decide what sort of experience you’d like to have and it’s time to consider making reservations. Jamaica has a wide range of hotels, inns and villas to accommodate almost any budget and taste:
- Backpacking / Hostels
-www.couchsurfing.org a free P2P room share option in private residences
-WWOOF.org volunteer on an organic farm
-AirBnB generally a lower cost P2P room sharing option
- Renting a Private Home or Villa – Many Private Homes and Villa are available for rent along with staff to take care of shopping, cooking and house cleaning.
-Vacation Rental By Owner is a very popular place to find private villas and homes
Independent Resort or Hotel
– Most Resorts in Jamaica are independently owned and operated enterprises. Locations from rural to urban, ocean front to mountain, and accommodations themselves are equally diverse from opulent to dormitory style. Independent hotels may offer meal plans but also give visitors the option to roam around and explore the area they are staying in, patronizing area eateries, cafes, and bars. Customers at these area establishments vary from locals to tourists and prices tend to be fairly reasonable, albeit lower priced in rural areas when compared to resort towns.
– All-Inclusive resorts offer a consistent, homogenized and generally stress free stay. What these large corporate operations lack in authenticity they make up for with service, planning activities and unlimited food. All inclusive resorts charge extra for premium liquors and off site tours.
Eco Lodge and Resort
Eco Lodges are an increasingly popular choice for travelers seeking an ideal blend between authenticity and sustainable comfort and luxury. Travelers at eco lodges are typically more interested in experiencing local culture, traditions, customs and the way of life. Eco lodges are as concerned with the well being of the environment, employees, and community as they are their guests. Eco Lodges make their best effort to use renewable building materials, energy sources, water conservation and typically source food locally through community supported agriculture.
Where ever you choose to stay DO get off the grounds and connect to the locals and local culture. If you’re staying at a mega resort, ask the lady cleaning your room, where her favorite local restaurant is . . . if you’re staying at an independent inn or lodge, wander to the local shop for a cold Red Stripe or a bottle of spring water, then stay for a while and chat it up with the locals.The Jamaican national motto, is “Out of Many, One People” it’s one thing to know the motto, but actually experiencing it is to know and understand Jamaican culture. Lastly even if you’re relying on a personal referral, before you book a stay consider checking TripAdvisor or other popular review sites for additional tips and suggestions. Here is a link my Eco Lodge in Jamaica on TripAdvisor. Of course I’d like you to consider a stay at Camp Cabarita, many of our guests believe that it is the ultimate combination of value comfort and uniqueness.
What to pack?
Obviously the length of stay, type of trip and your accommodations while on the island will largely determine items you should pack. I do have a minimum suggested pack list that applies to almost any traveler to Jamaica whether backpacking or staying in a mega resort. More can be added as space permits:
1 pair of light pants
Shorts and T shirts
Water shoes (crocs or teva type waterproof sandals get the job done)
Trail shoes/ or Tennis (if you plan on going anywhere other strolling the beach)
Water Bottle (Nalgene or SIG Type)
Solarcane – Aloe with Lidocane
Microfleece Long Sleeve
Small dry sack
2-3 Zip Lock Bags
It’s impossible to develop a pack list to fit all persons and travel styles, but the above list should cover the majority of needs for most travelers. If you forget to pack anything rest assured most necessities are readily attainable almost anywhere in Jamaica.
Traveling on the Island
Travel options on island:
-Renting a Vehicle
Renting a vehicle has appeal for travelers that want the freedom and flexibility travel at their own pace and explore with no particular destination in mind. Renting a vehicle is less expensive than chartering a car and driver, however there are some factors to consider. Many Jamaican roads are narrow or in poor condition, Jamaican divers are aggressive AND you’ll be driving on the left hand side of the road instead of the right. If you do rent a car make liberal use of your horn and be ready for traffic circles in and around town centers.
Chartered vehicles has many advantages over renting a car. Sitting back to take in the scenery and listen to your guide is often the right choice foRecommended for:
- JamaicaMember ofLocal CultureBudget TravelersFoodies+ 7Feb 04, 2014
I know I got the sanitized version only spending my short time there in Ocho Rios but I really loved the Jamaican vibe! The Caribbean is so beautiful, it's unfortunate that there is so much corruption! Regardless, my time in Jamaica was the beginning of my love affair with island, specifically topical island travel and living.Recommended for:
- JamaicaMember ofLocal CultureOutdoor EnthusiastsBudget Travelers+ 13Jan 14, 2014
Jamaica is a completely different world for an American like me. You will arrive and see from above a tropical paradise, but the inside of this great little island country there is a world divided. On one side you have the wealthy (mostly white American or European land owners) who have large estates or rental properties on the island. On the other side you have the average local (mostly black working class). So you have people living in a first world and a third world lifestyle all in one nation. It creates a wonderful blend that is uniquely Jamaican. You will find people who are overly friendly and extremely welcoming. Expect things to slow to a crawl as soon as you step out of the plane as the Jamaicans do not rush anything, ever. The island lives on a 'No Problems Mon..." attitude. Relax in the sun and enjoy the slow pace of life on the island.Recommended for:
- JamaicaMember ofLocal CultureBusiness TravelersFoodies+ 3Mar 25, 2014
One of my favorite places in the Caribbean! I can't say enough about the beauty of the island. Having traveled across the island alone, I discovered so many beautiful places that are unexplored. I would say if you are in teh region of Ocho Rios make sure you take a tour or hire a guide to take you up to the Blue Mountains. Not only does some of the best coffee in the world come from that region, the scenery is amazing! The other place largely ignored is Port Antonio. No words to describe this part of Jamaica.Recommended for:
- JamaicaMember ofLocal CultureOutdoor EnthusiastsBudget Travelers+ 5Jul 13, 2013
Jamaica is a beautiful country with amazing sunsets and weather. Though a poor country it is driven by tourism attracting millions for its beauty. Its beaches are populated with tons of All inclusive resorts. The Mountains produce its famous Blue Mountain Coffee. The food its amazing as well with great strong and spicy flavors.Recommended for:
- JamaicaMay 03, 2013
Spent our honeymoon there 28 years ago and wishing to go back again to see how much has changed over the years. We enjoyed the laid back life,the walks on the beach,and hospitality of the people. My hair was so long then it seemed the ladies of the huts wanted to braid my hair so badly, but I only wear my hair down to flow in the fresh tropical breeze of PARIDISE......Dreaming of JAMIACA NOW
- JamaicaMar 23, 2013
There are numerous countries that have an identity problem. There are 2 types of publicity good and bad. One cannot dispute the fact that good publicity will always be good; on the other hand bad publicity is not that bad depending on the circumstances. In fact it would be better to have a little bad publicity than none at all, this way one will be noticed. Reggae Music and Bob Marley propelled the country to unprecedented fame during the 1970 to 1980s and the trend has continued. Jamaica is the first country to start producing rum commercially and have perfected the art of distilling this precious drink. Blue Mountain Coffee which is the most expensive and best tasting coffee is made in Jamaica. This industry cannot be marginalized because it is the most popular drink worldwide with over 400 billion cups consumed each year. The hurricane season is one of the things also that gives some publicity to Jamaica, although the country has been speared the brunt of many major storms in recent years. In fact the last two major storms that had a devastating impact on the island were Hurricane Charlie in 1961 and Hurricane Gilbert in 1988.
The latest trend to have hit the world is our speed on the track. This tiny island produces some of the fastest women and men to ever grace the surface of the earth. So, it is quite obvious why Jamaica is a name brand country. This island continues to impact the world on various fronts. This Caribbean nation has being a champion of both good and bad publicity, when it is not one it's the other. There can be denial that the country has a high crime rate and sometimes something bizarre may pop up. Thank heavens these conflicts are among the locals and usually a distant away from visitors. Ask anyone who does a lot of traveling and they will tell you that some places are just contagious. The world is made up of about 195 countries. There are no two alike, with each of them being unique in their own way. Even if the differences are not that great there are some subtle nuances in the culture at least.
- JamaicaJan 21, 2013
I've been to several islands in the Caribbean and Jamaica keeps calling me back for one main reason: the water! It's the warmest and most serene I've encountered in the Caribbean and when I was there I had a hard time convincing myself to ever get out of it. It was great for scuba diving, too, since it's so warm: http://www.onedayinacity.com/jamaica-scuba-diving-attack/
- JamaicaNov 08, 2012
We had a great Vacation. Delayed 1 day by Hurricane Sandy, but the area we were in (Montego bay) received very little damage from the storm. 1 day of HIGH waves and water remained cloudy, so snorkling was kind of a bummer. water cleared to perfection on our last day(of course) but look forward to going back soon!
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